The East end boys and West end girls.
I grew up in Earls Court Village in central London in what is essentially a square, or rather a triangle with a beautiful enclosed English garden in the middle that only the residents had access to.
The three-story Georgian houses were built in the late 1800s that would have once housed the workers who would have worked at the Court…Wallgrave Road would have been the cottages and the muse houses on Redfield Lane would have been the stables...and there were lots of little secret passages and walkways that likely would’ve taken people up to the Court.
The village was cobbled so riding our bikes around the square was bumpy...it had withstood the bombing of WWII and each house was painted a soft pastel color... row-houses with painted upstairs shutters, bicycles tied up to iron railings, apple blossom trees lined the street and baskets of flowers hung from Victorian lampposts…it was a charming respite from the hustle and bustle of Cromwell Road.
If Eastenders had a sister called London Villagers, a more rarified Kensington version.. that would have been us.
When the Silver Jubilee took place we hung bunting back and forth between the houses…the fruit seller kept his barrow in one of the stables and you could hear him bumbling down the street twice a day…the milk man come before dawn every morning (we had the red cap)...we had an account at the butcher around the corner and the green grocer...we even had a local on the corner - the King’s Head.
Even tho' my mum retired and moved to the US and sold the house in 2001, I can still walk around that quintessentially English house in my head, each room filled with treasured bits and pieces, decades of memories and meaningful life experiences.
I can still see the little stones embedded on the top step, know which way to turn the door key, hear how each stair creeks underfoot, know which way the taps turn, where the wallpaper is peeling, which doors catch the carpet, and how the light comes into the drawing room.
I was devastated when we sold the house even tho' I hadn't lived there for many years… and to this day, I have recurring dreams about once a month of walking around it, things still as they were.
But a house is just a house... it’s the memories we cherish that live on in our hearts that are the most important, and fade but never go away completely... my mum remembers when Lady Di died, she could smell the sea of flowers from Kensington Palace from her bedroom.
I still remember my childhood phone number… 370-2367... I wonder if I called it today, who'd pick up? It'd be super scary if it was me sitting in the study downstairs.